By | April 27, 2012 58 Comments

The Red Flags of dysfunction

Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

After reading Donna’s newest book on the 10 Red Flags of spotting psychopaths, I got to thinking that there are Red Flags in our own lives that we should also take notice of and avoid.

When we first start the “journey toward healing,” and I do think it is a journey, not a destination, we have to learn the things about ourselves that we need to change in order to live a healthy life, one free of psychopaths and other abusers. Our journey started out in learning the behavior of the psychopaths and abusers so we could spot these people who will not change their bad behavior, but it ends up being learning about ourselves, and how our own behavior contributed to the psychopath’s ability to continue to abuse us.

The Red Flags we can see in people who are not healthy, who are not going to “play nice,” are absolutely necessary to building a new life. (Thank you Donna for your newest book!) But we also need to learn the Red Flags of dysfunctional behavior in ourselves.

The new rules

If we want to become healthy, here are rules that I think we need to make for ourselves.

1. I will not continue to have contact with people who are abusive.

I will maintain NO CONTACT with people who have been abusive to me and do not show any remorse for this behavior. (The exception to this is if I am required by law to co-parent or otherwise maintain minimal contact.)

2. I will not behave in dishonest ways.

I will live an honest life in all ways, dealing with others as I would that they would deal with me. I will maintain the “do right” rule. If it is not “right” I will not do it.

3. I will not live in fantasy.

I will not live in the FANTASY of thinking I can control situations or other people that are out of my control. I will “let go and let God/the Universe” run the universe. I will not live in the fantasy of thinking that if I just try harder I can “fix” anything.

4. I will not be irresponsible.

I will assume responsibility for myself and those things that are my responsibility. I will support myself and my children financially and emotionally, doing healthy things and taking care of those things that are my responsibility. These may include stopping some bad habits such as alcohol and other substances, even too much or too little food or exercise.

5. I will not enable/rescue others.

This means that I will not assume responsibility for the things that others should be responsible for, even if they think I should be responsible for supporting them, or doing for them what they should and can do for themselves. The only “legitimate” rescue is to drag an unconscious person from a burning building.

6. I will not persecute others.

I will not punish others for not doing what I think is what they should do, or for living their lives in a way that brings problems upon themselves.

7. I will not be a volunteer victim.

I will not engage myself in behaviors or with dishonest or irresponsible people that will cause me to be victimized.

I will recognize that in the past I have done things that caused me to be vulnerable to being victimized by others. Because I continued to allow others to abuse me (whatever my excuses were), I know now that I must take responsibility for myself. Now that I KNOW better I must DO better.

Changing our own behavior

When I find myself “back sliding” and in a situation that is causing me distress, I must say to myself “STOP,” and then see what it is that is causing this distress in my feelings and in my life. Then I must take corrective action in the situation and change my own behavior to stop the distress.

Problems come up in our lives every day that we must solve, but if we do the best we can to live our lives honestly and responsibly, taking responsibility for those things that are our responsibility, the problems are pretty well minimized and there is little or no drama in our lives.

There may be someone in our lives that we can’t avoid, a co-worker or a neighbor who is hateful or problematic, but we can control our reaction to their behavior even though we can’t control them. We may even have to find another job, or accept that the one we have is not an ideal one, but we can tolerate it by changing our own attitude.

Life won’t always be a bowl of cherries; there will be problems. But as long as we live by the “do right” rule, and do what we know is the right way to live, the majority of the drama will be out of our lives. We will be less stressed out realizing that we are only in control of our own selves.

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the sisterhood

I LOVE this post, Oxy! I am going to hang this list on my fridge and make sure that I teach my children these things over and over again.

I also love how you said that this healing is a journey and that it’s not a destination. You couldn’t be more right. I have found the journey to be so rewarding. Yes, there are miserable days and days where I seriously doubt myself. But, the healing is taking place. I feel it and I can see it.

The most significant change I see in myself is my attitude adjustment. I am no longer seeing myself as a victim. I am not taking it personally anymore the things my ex-spath did to me. He did them because of his crap…not mine. It wasn’t about me. I am good and I have moved on to those who love and appreciate me. Who see “me” and respect “me”, not some image.

The pain of the past abuse doesn’t really go away but it doesn’t sting as much anymore. I can’t change how others judge me, but I can live my life truthfully and with integrity and just focus forward. I am really believing in my core that I am right where I am supposed to be and the plan of my life is unfolding in such a beautiful way. I couldn’t be more grateful for this journey.


OxDrover – omigawd, this is one of the BEST articles for me at this exact point and time.

It’s not so much about what the exspath did, or why. It’s about how I can never be made a victim, again. The ONLY way to accomplish that (or, come remotely close to success) is to alter myself into what I am MEANT to be.

Each one of the “New Rules” is spot-on. Honesty. Integrity. Self-accountability and responsibility. When I have those things under my belt, I have confidence. When I have confidence, I am NOT needy. When I am NOT needy, I am self-reliant and need not give a fig whether or not I meet someone else’s approval.

Wow, OxD……….just……….WOW

kim frederick

great post, Oxy!! I was just thinking this morning how truley lucky I am…then I thought, well I’m lucky because I was (finally) given a second chance. I had been without work for so long I had lost hope. I thought, also, that I was lucky because I had a daughter who was willing to help me, but now, it isn’t so much “luck” anymore, as it is a change of attitude, willingness and hard work.

But what I am the most gratefull for is my independance. It’s true. I live in a tiny little house, very humble, but it’s my sanctuary, and I am free from dominating influences in my life. I am supporting myself, and I’m free. There have been “moments” of independance before, but I always mucked them up by becoming involved (too soon) with a man, and then finding myself under someone’s yoke, yet again. This is the compullsion to repeat…to unconsciously set oneself up (over and over again) in order to work out some original trauma, or to convince oneself that some long held, age old set of beliefs and behaviors would (finally) work. These, of course, are the survival tactics we learned in childhood…they worked then, why don’t they work now?

Anyway, Ox, I had always been beholdin’ to some man or another, then it was my D and SIL. The truth was I doubted my ability to support myself, since I had never really successfully done it. I was afraid of failing…Of course I failed to recognize the fact that not only had I supported myself by working extra long hours, in the past, I had supported no load crack head as well. I was a hot mess then, but I’d done it.

Long story short, I’m doing it, dirt-bag free, for the first time. I bought myself a lap-top last month, got cable and internet service…last week I bought myself an electric bike……weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, it’s soooo much fun and great for commuting, and next pay day I’m ordering a small portable washer and compact dryer from Wal-mart.

I still smart from the past and get lost some times in trying to figure it out. It still makes me sad. But I’m not living it anymore, and I’m free to experience genuine pride in myself and joy in life.

Thanks for the article Oxy…good stuff.


Another rule comes into mind right away.

#8. I will not keep doing the same things over and over again and keep expecting different results. Some define this as insanity.

If it ain’t working, it ain’t working. Accept that.

Very nice list, Oxy. Thanks for posting it.

Ox Drover


I’m glad that the article resonated with you. Since THIS latest journey with healing from a psychopath I have had to re-take the classes I had in “Psychopath 101” and I realized that in the past I thought you would just “heal” and be done with it, but I realized this time that the healing is a life-long journey.

When we quit learning we quit growing, and when we quit growing, just like a plant, we die. Growth is required in humans as well if we intend to live a successful life.


Oxy, thanks. This is really clearly written and definitely speaks to the struggles I’m going through now, as I sift through my current relationship and make some tough decisions about it. Your article will be my meditation for today. 🙂

Ox Drover

You guys posted when I was posting to sisterhood…..

G1S, I like that #8, I hope that others will ADD their additions to the list.

Kimmy, sugar I have watched you for years living dependent up on your daughter and SIL and how unhappy you were with the feeling of dependence on someone you didn’t even like.

When someone else supports us we are subservient to them…we owe them. I jumped up and did a woooo hooooo!!! when you got your little house and now that you have a job and are buying things for yourself, you just don’t know how proud that makes me of you, and FOR you. Independence is a wonderful thing isn’t it? FREEDOM!!!!!!

You know as crazy as it sounds, I am beginning to like this single life more and more even though I had a husband I loved.

Ox Drover

Truthspeak and 20 years, glad it resonated with you as well.

Guys, this list is not all conclusive, if you think of more to add, please do.


Oxy, you are right that independence is such a good feeling. I was economically dependent for most of my life, and now I’m so grateful to be self supporting. I have so much freedom, control over my own life, etc. I will NOT give this up without a fight!!!! Never. 😉

kim frederick

20 years. AMEN.

Ox Drover

I have pretty much been financially independent my whole life starting working at “kid” things very young, hoeing cotton for $3 a day for 10 hours to buy things for myself when I was 12, getting a job after school in a pharmacy when I was 15, to pay for my horse and her feed. After I left home at 17 I was working for someone, supporting myself. I borrowed money from time to time from the egg donor but I paid back every cent plus interest. haven’t taken a dime from her in 40 years though, except christmas presents or birthday presents and she has “reminded” me of those as how “generous” she has been to me. Once she gave me $10,000 for christmas and said, “Well if I dont give it to you now, the IRS will get it.” (boy that made me feel good) after my husband died she kept trying to give me money and I said “I don’t need it” and she got upset that I wouldn’t take money from her. Upset that I maintained my independence….but then turned aorund and said I was trying to steal money from her. Then her “buddies” stole from her! LOL

Karma is a biatch!

Actually I would rather sleep in a card board box than to give up my independence. Being dependent on another person is a ONE-DOWN position, and I do not intend to be one down to anyone.

Back when I was a stay at home mom, and then without warning that was a rug that was pulled out from under me and I was living in the back of my pick up with my two kids, my cat and NO money I still maintained my independence. I found me a place to live, jobs (cleaning houses) and got back into college, then finished up my degree with a kid on each hip. I’m proud of that independence. I’m proud of the strength I had even when I thought I had none. That strength though beaten down, still helped me survive this last go round with my son and the Trojan Horse Psychopath. The Bible says that God won’t put more on us than we can handle, and I believe that, but at the same time, I believe sometimes He puts ALL we can handle on us and it is to increase our strength. The bigger loads we carry, the stronger we get. Just like lifting weights.

Look at what Erin Brock has done…when she was down with cancer and a stroke, and her kids God only knew where when her parents and the psychopath kidnapped them…she just got stronger and prevailed. Her son is now firmly on the side of the angels, and knows what his sperm donor is! That right there is a big TOWANDA for EB and for him. Junior now KNOWS for sure.

I’ve seen so much progress here, with Kimmy scratching her independence, her own little house and not having to answer to anyone for it. She also deserves a BIG TOWANDA for becoming beholden to no one!

We are all independent people again! Taking responsibility for ourselves and our own lives, deciding who is in it and who is NOT.


I have another one for your list, Oxy.

#9. Stop handing them the road map on how to hurt you.

If they show no interest in changing, stop telling them how much they upset or hurt you.

You’re asking for mercy or some kind of improvement. They’re delighting on finding out what works and what doesn’t.

And then we’re shocked and stunned when they do worse the next time around. Really? Why?

Jeepers, we’ve been telling them which buttons to push.

Say it once. If they don’t get it, no more second chances.

Oxy, I’ve been annoyed more than once with all the confidence God has in me on how much I can handle.

If long-suffering is an admirable trait, I must be close to being a saint.


#10. Stop shopping in empty stores.

If we want certain kindnesses, fun, love, empathy, understanding, compassion, or whatever in our lives, stop trying to obtain them from people who have never indicated that they are naturally prone to providing or intending on giving them.

Make your selections from what is available, not on what you hope will show up eventually.

Who has ever bought anything and brought it home fully expecting it to be different or to become better once you go it there?


#11. Stop seeking everyone else’s approval at your own expense.


Great article Oxy! If I had read this a few years ago it would likely have made me angry, sad, and I would have felt ashamed and defeated. What a joy to read it and UNDERSTAND!

A few years ago it was still really hard for me to take responsibility for my own choices, and reconcile those choices with my victimizations. It was so painful to look at the roots of my personal dysfunction. It was embarrassing to acknowledge how much I wanted to live in a fantasy, and not face the reality of my own childhood and subsequent dysfunction.

Even so, after time, and some periods of relative calm and self reflection, I FINALLY saw that I was the key. I, the deeper I, was what I wanted; and to connect with that deeper I personal WORK and accountability was in order. I would have to deal with my guilt and shame. I would have to stop trying to work my own issues out by trying to fix the world.

Like Kim, I had glimpses, but kept back sliding into old/learned patterns of self-destructive choices and behavior. Oh My Gosh, I have repeated 1-7 most of my life! Krazy! And I was so ashamed of it, and the messes I made in my life. I kept trying to bury it. My own wash-rinse-repeat cycle.

It looks so simple in the article. But in fact it is so complicated to unravel all the reasons ‘why’, and how, we end up being complicit in our own destruction.

Looking at all my family stuff, and then letting go of the anger that I am the one who will have to fix myself as a result of it took a LONG time. I was SO angry at being left to sort things out on my own. I felt I had already been through SO much, that someone else could damn well make me happy, and fulfill my dreams.

After all I was NOT responsible for my shitty upbringing and abuse.

But I am, fair or not, responsible for sorting through it all, allowing the pain of growth, and doing the hard work of earning my butterfly wings (thanks Skylar!).

Love to all of you,



Your additions are brilliant!

No shopping at empty stores, waiting for the merchandise to show (as promised ;-0 )

No giving bad people a road map to manipulate us.

Gosh I have been on my knees with that map. Saying ‘see here, right here, this is where it hurts….’.


Thanks, Slim.

Loved your “My own wash-rinse-repeat cycle.” What a great visual that creates – somebody inside a front-loading washing machine going around and around.

I also loved, “Gosh I have been on my knees with that map. Saying ’see here, right here, this is where it hurts”.’.

We can add to that, “How could it be worse? Well, if you did……that would horrible. Do you have any idea how much that would really mess up my life?”

Let’s break out the silver platter!


#12. Trust your personal feedback and senses. Stop thinking that Monday morning, quarterback opinions are more accurate that your first-hand experiences and observations.


Is WalMart OK? Never mind, probably not.


You get what you pay for.

Love this article, Oxy, because it’s really the other side of the coin.

Please add,
#13. I will not compare myself to others because that is the beginnings of envy.

Envy is what motivates spaths. The moment we feel envy we become like they are. The key is not to even go there, do NOT compare who you are with anyone else. If God had intended you to BE them, you would already BE them!!


Amen to that, Skylar. Amen to that.

Ox Drover

Skylar, you just read my mind….my next article is about comparing ourselves to others. YOU GUYS are awesome. I think we’re psycic, or is that psychotic…or psychic or just chic…LOL Anyway, I think you read my mind.

I just got back from town. Whew, it is hot and humid today but no rain it doesn’t look like! We made the rounds of my doctor, Wal Mart, Lowe’s, the flea markets (came home with more—okay sky can you guess what??? BOOKS!!!!! of course) And the cutest little set of bone china sugar and creamer to go with my cute little non-set of collected bone china cups (no two alike) and saucers.

I also found some cute yard art things—a bird house that is an elaborate barn, all hand made for $8 can’t beat that!

I love doing little things for myself that are just FUN! Life is good, and there is so much to enjoy. and coffee tastes much better out of a two dollar bone china tea cup than out of styrofoam or plastic…and I blew $2.18 for a quart of REAL CREAM for my coffee. The livin’ is easy, the cotton is high, the river is rollin’ and the bird’s on the fly.


Thanks for this article. Very much needed, I think because it’s all about US!! 🙂

Skylar, I like what you say about envy. I try not to compare myself with what people have on the OUTSIDE, copared to what I feel like on the INSIDE. Do you know what I mean? Their shiny cars, houses, toys etc. and they are miserable. I have/own very little and I am finding peace, comfort, and joy! Hope you are too 😉

Human beings are the most mimetic of all creatures. That’s what enables us to learn so much, because we can copy and incorporate things that other know into ourselves.

I’m pretty sure this evolved as a survival mechanism so we could learn what’s good to eat. If you eat something yummy, the pleasure is going to show on your face, then I’ll know it’s good and I’ll want some too. Conversely, if it’s sour or bitter or poison, you’ll make an unpleasant face.

So babies and children need to be mimetic but at some point we need to move into the stage of becoming more than just replicas of each other. Human beings that copy each other as adults become rivals. The rivalry is set off by envy. Next comes violence.

Leaving that game behind is one way that we can avoid “feeding the spaths”. They thrive on the drama of envy and shame.

Ana, we posted past each other.
Yep, peace comes from growing up, I guess. I’m not there yet but there is a lot of comfort in leaving the spath sitting in his sandbox.


Good. Leave him sitting in the sandbox in a poopy diaper. YOU will get ‘there’ cause you are YOU! YAY!

Good for us on LF and too.


Dear Oxy;

I went after work to meet friends and had a good time, a really good time, am a little tipsy at the moment but I don’t care, I’ve been the reasonable one, the unfun one, the responsible one and believe me , this isn’t a life changer but I’m so glad I embraced the moment, reconnected with some good people, no one threatening, and came home and read your article. You are an awesome person and I’m so glad you’ve stayed with this site – your pain was incredible but you’ve lived to tell the tale in such way that touches so many people. Tomorrow night I have an invite to go hear an awesome band and Dance, and I love to dance. Life is so short, we should all do what we feel we’re here to do and fit in some unadulterated, unanalyzed, kick-ass FUN and as long as we don’t hurt anyone or ourselves, just get out there and LIVE!

Ox Drover


Darling, thank you for the compliment on the article. If someone gets something out of what I’ve been through (or someone else has been through) then WE HAVE WON!!!!

Glad you had a kick ass good time! Go dance your feetsies off tomorrow night!

I had a great day too…and my casted leg is sore from walking but I came home with the cutest bone china sugar and creamer set to go with my non-set bone china cups and I will pour REAL cream into my coffee in the morning and dip out of my cute little sugar bowl with my little antique spoon! And feel like I’m a rich old lady living in a castle!

Whatever we find joy in, whatever we cherish! Go for it! Have a good time, do fun things for yourself. We ‘ve wasted enough time being heart broken, it is time for us to enjoy our lives and do things that bring us JOY!

Someone said up thread (I can’t find it so cann’t credit who said it) that this article is about US and that is so true.

We start out learning about THEM, but in the end we start learning about ourselves. US!!!! USSSS!!! and that is the important thing.

We DO need to know how to spot them with Donna’s 10 Red Flags, but we also need to spot the RED FLAGS in our own behavior and live by those precepts as well. We can keep them away with NO contact and that’s gonna eventually stop the pain, but we need to live by the “do right rules” to bring JOY into our lives, not just keep the pain out.




Great night and great video, know and love that song, thank you!

And Oxy, will eat real cream when I feel like it, too – it’s the frosting I put on my daughter’s birthday cake last weekend and it was the best. And you’re right, we learn about ourselves, they make us turn the attention back on us and finally, we can handle and celebrate that…crank up the volume…


I just love this article. I’ve read it about three times today already! I also love all the comments. 🙂


Ana, I liked what you said about comparing our insides to people’s outsides.

Nobody should be fooled by the outer trappings.

We don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives. We don’t know how they feel inside.


Thanks. Spath ex friend got a new car. Am I envious? NOPE, cause I know she’s still the same misarable sob she always was and always will be no matter ‘what’ she gets.

I’m feeling pretty positive lately and I’m grateful for that.




love this article & what everyone has written.

slimone wrote something that really goes to the core of my dysfunctional life:

“It was embarrassing to acknowledge how much I….. {did}… not face the reality of my own childhood and subsequent dysfunction.”

Here’s my question:
Up until about 6 years ago, I never realized how dysfunctional my childhood was. So, up until about 6 years ago, I never realized how dysfunctional my life was. About 6 years ago, my mother died & it was only after her death that I came to consciously realize the dysfunction. In other words, my dysfunction was “normal”, so I never realized that what I took for “normal” was in fact dysfunction.

Have any of you experienced this?

I suppose I was always brain washed, gas lighted & minimalized when ever I stood up for myself, with my family & friends telling me that I was making too much out of it, I was too sensitive, no one is perfect, I’m too demanding, etc.

So, being surrounded in that environment, I never realized that family/friends were being dysfunctional. However, what I did know was that I (eventually) stopped liking-loving them because I disliked interacting with them. In effect, I went NC-LC. But, then the Ns & SPs would start on me with “why don’t you speak-see X anymore?” And that made me second guess myself: perhaps I judged X too harshly, so I’ll give X another chance. So, I’d let the Ns & SPs back into my life, only to regret doing so, again & again.

I guess my point/question is this: Since I lived in an environment that fostered self-doubt, I always felt I was wrong to shun people I did not want to be with. So, how could I ever know that I myself participated in the dysfunction? The dysfunction was my “normal”. And, when I tried to seek healthy relationships, my family & friends called me “too judgmental”.

Any one else have that experience?



The list of “new rules” affirms very clearly things I have been working on since I left my psychopathic ex-husband five years ago. We had been married 26 years and have 4 children. Last Tuesday I had take him to court for child support since he didn’t want to pay. Unfortunately he is a lawyer and understands the system very well. It was difficult, but I did it. I tried my best to maintain dignity, be calm, and show grace as his lawyer flung lies at me. I wish I had seen the list before I went to court. I would have written them down on paper and carried it close to my heart. I will do this in the future. Thank you for the post.

Ox Drover

Clair, THAT IS MY LIFE STORY!!! Absolutely, and you have every right in the world to “shun” people who hurt you. You instincts are RIGHT ON!!!!! so hang in there girlfriend, you are on the right course! NC!!!!


Welcome to lovefraud and glad you enjoyed my article. It does start out about learning about them, but then it is about US and learning how we can live a BETTER life, not just keep them from inflicting more pain on us.

Keep on holding your head up and doing things with grace and dignity no matter what kind of stunts he pulls. Again, welcome!

I completely understand your experience.
When I left my spath, I went to my parents’ house. As I stood there, pondering how controlling my spath had been, the memories of my parents’ exact same behavior when I was a teenager, made my heart fall to my feet.

I felt like I’d become aware of a curse, to always be in the grips of controlling people. I felt so sad for all the years I’d lost allowing others to dictate my life for the sheer pleasure of taking away my autonomy. And I had allowed it because I interpreted it as love. I thought love meant control. I couldn’t tell the difference because that’s what my parents had programmed me with.


Clair, YESSS!!!!

When others criticize you as being “too judgmental” or “too this” or “too that,” that is controlling behavior.

And the attitude of sheer entitlement to be in charge of you. It doesn’t matter if they are spaths (enjoy hurting you) or narcissists (you are an extension of themselves) or borderline (they have to be in control of everything so they don’t freak out)… the effect is the same.

“Well, SOMEONE has to tell you!”

“It’s for your own good.”

“You expect too much. No one is perfect.”


And as for the shunning, I think it is natural and NORMAL to listen to your gut instincts which tell you whom to stay away from. Especially if it is a repeating pattern.

When I think shunning is wrong, is when the other person acted differently than you expected or wanted him/her to (that would mean that YOU are controlling), and you are trying to inflict cruelty on them (i.e., “punish”) them for something you have judged them for — because you know that shunning them will hurt them more than anything else you could possibly do.

So… I wouldn’t call the first thing “shunning.” I would call it “no contact” which is self-protective for YOU, as opposed to your using your power to decide that you can pretend that another person doesn’t exist and that their hurt feelings and bewilderment don’t count, and that you have a right to treat them with inhuman cruelty.

Go ahead and avoid or have no contact with people who repeatedly hurt you! Nothing wrong with your protecting yourself.


20years, I’m in 100% agreement. At this point, I don’t really care how people perceive me, anymore. I have always (and, I do mean that literally) based my decisions and choices on the shame-core of the damaged “inner child.” I wanted approval and acceptance. And, that “need” or “want” is precisely what spaths play on. “You’re the ONLY person who has ever encouraged me,” was something that I heard from the exspath, the female ex-con, and countless other spaths that I have known.

What kind of bullshit is that? I’m the ONLY person throughout your entire life? Really? Seriously? No kidding? Nobody’s ever told you, “Good job,” in your life until I came along? WHAT A COMPLETE SETUP!!!!

Yes….avoid, shun, dismiss, no contact, walk away from, or put ANY comfortable label on the action, but do it for the sake of self-preservation! I don’t have to be mean or hateful about it, but I am not going to seek anyone else’s approval or acceptance, anymore. Opening that door is like that zombie onslaught in “I Am Legend.” Once there’s an “in,” there is no stopping the spath – they are very focused and quite relentless once that way in is revealed or discovered.


Clair, I recognized as a child that there was something very wrong with my family. I vowed that I would never do to my child what my mother had done to me. Note that I said “mother,” not family. I thought there was only one participant.

When I became an undergrad, I took child development courses because I realized that I didn’t know what a “normal” family was or how one would operate. At that time, I was still focusing on my mother.

I eventually got into Al-Anon, where I learned about adult children of alcoholics. It was then that I learned about dysfunctional families.

I don’t think the mental health field had even identified dysfunctional family dynamics before then. Dysfunctional families weren’t talked about before then that I can remember.

Psychology was still limited to treating the individual. They blamed certain people for some things. For example, it was thought that children were autistic because the mothers were so cold and unresponsive. The mental health field even labeled these parents “refrigerator mothers.”

It is very unfortunate that many breakthroughs in understanding seem to disappear after the initial announcements and consequent buzz that put them in vogue. It also seems that people want “the latest research” when certain things as just as valid today as when they were in vogue. It’s not old news. It’s the issue; it’s what’s going on.

You don’t hear about adult children of alcoholics anymore, but much of what is described in those dynamics pertain to children growing up in a psychopathic or sociopathic family.

As for shunning the people who hurt you, I wrote about that in one of my articles posted on LF, “Another View on Forgiveness.”

You might want to take a look at


G1S, it never ceases to amaze me at how fervently “forgiveness” is argued on all fronts and from all viewpoints.

For me, “forgiveness” maintains a theological connotation – something that has been mandatedby a Higher Power and my inability or unwillingness to “forgive” marks me as a “bad person.’ I personally perfer using “moving on.” LOL!!! If I can just get past this one pothole on my healing path, I can start looking up the road a little further. Right now, I have no interest in granting “forgiveness” to someone who used me and my assets and then discarded me like a soiled tissue once my funds were drained.

In terms of “shunning” people who present an emotional or psychological danger to me, I have to work with some of these people, so I can’t very well “shun” them. But, what I can do is to acknowledge their existence by cordial responses and provide them with nothing more. No personal discussion. No disclosures. No announcements. No beliefs or disbeliefs. I give them nothing of myself that they could possibly find useful.

It’s like I wrote on another post, today – I don’t and won’t seek someone else’s approval or acceptance, anymore. I’m just not going to. By adhering to that simple boundary, perhaps anyone with “An Agenda” will recognize that boundary as being a hardwired and highly electric fence and won’t dare to injure themselves by attempting to touch it. That’s my hope, at any rate. 🙂


Truthspeak, your points are exactly the ones that I made in my forgiveness article.

Ox Drover

Truthspeak, you in effect ARE “shunning” these people by limiting the INTIMATE contact you have with them. You are POLITE on a superficial level but you are allowing them NO real contact with the inner YOU. We have to work with these people and we must be superficially polite to them but we don’t have to become buddies with them. lots of times if you just encourage them to talk about themselves they are so narcissistic they don’t even get it that you haven’t said a word about YOURSELF. LOL


OxD….LOL!!!! And, the sad part is that I don’t even want to hear anything about them, either! I just want to do what needs to get done, go about my business, and just BE.

G1S, I think people get SO defensive because they haven’t gotten to the point where they feel comfortable in saying, “I don’t HAVE to do anything, at all!” If I don’t pass the Get-Into-Heaven Exam, well so be it. I am beginning to do what is right for me – not what other people insist is right for EVERYone.

For me, it’s enough to acknowledge that people make mistakes and that repeating things that harm other people again, and again, and again is a deliberate action. If someone is truly sorry for their actions and take measures to avoid harming others, again, that is something noteworthy!

As an EDIT addition – G1S, I thoroughly agree with your article. It was well-written, sensible, and non-judgmental. I found some of the responses to be somewhat defensive, but I think that stems directly from personal shame-cores and NOT from a space of healing. We are not required to do anything in this lifetime but pay taxes and die. All else becomes a matter of choices and good decisions. IMHO.


Truthspeak, I’m not concerned about passing a get-into-heaven exam either. I agree with you – it’s a matter of choices and, to modify a little of what you said, making good decisions based on the decisions we are seeing made.

Oxy, good point about getting narcissists to talk about themselves and being left with nothing to use against you. Of course, when you fall over asleep from being bored to death listening to them talk, they might object to that.



Love you guys!! Thanks for answering!!

I used the word “shun” because in those days, I had no knowledge or awareness of Ns/SPs & LC/NC wasn’t in my vocabulary. So, I “shunned” them, but it really was LC/NC.

Oxy said “Clair, THAT IS MY LIFE STORY!!! Absolutely, and you have every right in the world to “shun” people who hurt you. You instincts are RIGHT ON!!!!! so hang in there girlfriend, you are on the right course! NC!!!!”
Thank you for that, Oxy!! It felt so good to read that.

skylar said: “I thought love meant control.”
skylar, I didn’t even realize that I was BEING CONTROLLED!!
Bleh!! 🙁

G1S: interesting what you said about studying child development in college. Had I done so, I don’t know if it would have awoken me because so much of what my N/Borderline parents did was covert or if it wasn’t covert, I thought I deserved it because I was “bad” (as they would often tell me so).

I’m having one of those post-Ns/SPs awareness days, where I’m dealing with the aftermath of the tumult/chaos that the Ns/SPs caused. I’m feeling like a dupe & a schnook, because I was “too nice” & didn’t stand up for myself. But, as my T once said to me :
“how could you have stood up for yourself? The Ns bulldozed you”.
Yup, bulldozed me, crushed/crumpled me and I DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE IT. Bleh!!!!!!!! 🙁

Reminds me of the title of an Alice Miller book: “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware”. Well, I was not fully aware until AFTER both parents were dead.

So, THANK YOU ALL for helping me to un-crumple myself.

Love to you all,


interesting reactions to the word “shun”. Perhaps I should have said “avoided”. But, good use the the word “shun” here:

Job 1:8 – Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“shuns evil”
Yeah, I’m kinda liking the word “shun” 🙂


I like the word shun also. I also liked your word

‘un-crumple’ That’s a good one. 😉


Ox Drover,

Thank you for your kind words. It is finally nice to find a community of people who understand completely what I have been through and can give me the insight and guidance to heal and move on with my life.

This is indeed a life journey and it helps to know others are walking it with me.

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